Tahiti: A Brief Guide

by Norah Martin

in Places

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Knowing that the French painter Gauguin, who left Paris to paint ‘at the end of the world’, fell in love with Tahiti so much that he stayed in Polynesia for the rest of his life, one can only imagine the beauty of these islands. There are thousands of islands, beaches, reefs in French Polynesia, and every single one is the essence of beauty.  Tahiti is a part of France, and is situated in the Southern Pacific, literally as ‘little dots’ on the map. Flying time from Paris is close to 30 hours whichever way one is flying. Volcanoes there are still active and the place is ever changing, and some would say it gets more beautiful each time you visit.

Tahiti: the Facts

The main island of French Polynesia is Tahiti, with its capital Papeete, the population of the whole country being close to 184.000 people, where Papeete counts approx. 26.000 inhabitants. The second largest island is Moorea. The name Bora Bora will also resonate with some people as it is one of the most popular tourists destinations, and is especially popular among honeymooners, which has earned it the title of ‘honeymoon island’.

Water-based activities

As I was trying to elaborate at the beginning, Tahiti is as close to Paradise as we can get, and it’s worth flying all those long hours to experience it. The majority of visitors seek water-based activities, like snorkeling, diving, deep-see fishing, surfing, sailing, canoeing or some of the available catamaran tours. They all enable a visitor to enjoy the beauty and excitement of the islands, and keep memories of Tahiti as the most precious they have yet experienced. Where waters are shallow, bright coral walls are a real attraction and draw numerous daily visitors. The catamarans often offer a full-day tour, and with their glass bottom they enable one to experience a feeling of ‘swimming’ with the tropical fish.

Other Attractions

Papeete offers a different attraction – a 155-year-old public market called Le Marche. This is heaven for Tahitian-made handicrafts, oils, vanilla, flowers, etc. Both your eyes and nose will celebrate your visit to this market. Make sure you take enough cash to it, however, as you won’t be able to resist most of the attractive merchandise.

Another wonderful attraction available, the so-called ‘Circle-Island Tour’ will take you on a 71-mile journey around the islands. The scenery is stunning, the sharp cliffs and high seas will contrast the peaceful sandy beaches and picturesque intimate churches right down by the water. Hopefully there will be time to take a dip in the crystal waters as well.

The Museum of Tahiti is also worth visiting, and it will give the visitor a good grasp of Tahitian history both pre- and post-European settlement, as well as a view at the unique blend of the two cultures. The most unique would be the Polynesian art carvings and historical artifacts like boats and objects used in everyday life.

I could not write about Tahiti and not mention the Gauguin Museum. It is situated inside the Botanical Garden and for the real aficionados this will be a real treat. Some of the objects used by the painter, his sketches, documents, block prints are just a few of the attractions available at the museum.

I know this article will not be enough to cover even a small part of what Tahiti has to offer, but the final must-visit attraction I will mention is the Pearl Museum. This is a very unique and exciting place to visit. It is dedicated entirely to pearls, as one might expect. One learns about the tradition and practice of cultivating pearls as well as their place in our history, religion and mythology. And you might even end up buying one, or more.

Different Tahitian accommodation options are available, and you will surely find the one to suit your needs. Whether you are the adventurous type, the laid-pack type, or if you are looking for an amazing destination to holiday with your family, Tahiti will surely not let you down, and will cater to your every need.

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